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Radiofrequency-assisted liposuction provides faster recoveries, better results

Article-Radiofrequency-assisted liposuction provides faster recoveries, better results

Key iconKey Points

  • Radiofrequency-assisted liposuction (RFAL) candidates include those seeking lipo surgery, desire less pain and bruising
  • RFAL more energy-efficient than other devices on the market

Dr. Mulholland
TORONTO — When Israel- and Toronto-based Invasix launches its radiofrequency-assisted liposuction (RFAL) device known as BodyTite in the United States — pending clearance by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) — eligible patients will have an exciting new option for body contouring.

"RFAL candidates would be anyone who is seeking lipo surgery, who wants less pain, bruising and discomfort on recovery, as well as optimal soft-tissue contraction," says R. Stephen Mulholland, M.D., a board-certified cosmetic plastic surgeon with private aesthetic practices in Toronto and Los Angeles, and president and director of SpaMedica Infinite Vitality Clinic, Toronto.

RFAL REVEALED The RFAL device is a one-stage thermal-assisted lipoplasty technique that differs from other liposuction methods with its use of radiofrequency to liquefy and coagulate the adipose and vascular tissue while it is aspirated.

"It's similar in concept to laser liposuction or laser lipolysis in that it uses an energy methodology to preliquefy the fat," Dr. Mulholland says.

A patient before (left) and eight months after endoscopic browlift, upper lid blepharoplasty, endoscopic mid-face lift, NeckTite (Invasix) for closed anterior and lateral neck and RFAL. (Photos credit: R. Stephen Mulholland, M.D.)
This differs from techniques such as suction-assisted liposuction (SAL) and power-assisted liposuction (PAL), which use mechanical force to remove the fat. The use of radiofrequency energy provides some benefits over older, mechanical force and energy-assisted lipolysis methodologies, Dr. Mulholland says.

"The big advantage is that you're heating, liquefying and coagulating while you're aspirating. So it's one stage, and it's faster than existing energy-assisted liposuction methods," he says. "In addition to being faster than other thermal liposuction systems, published studies show the uniformity and efficiency of RFAL allows for average area soft-tissue contraction of 30 to 40 percent, making some marginal skin-laxity patients candidates for RFAL rather than more aggressive excisional techniques."

A patient before (left) and 12 months after RFAL of the hips, waist and abdomen. (Photos credit: R. Stephen Mulholland, M.D.)
The speed of RFAL, however, does not surpass that of SAL and PAL. Even though aspiration occurs at the same time as liquefaction and coagulation, the aspiration speed is not as fast as with PAL. "RFAL adds about five minutes per zone to get critical temperature, heat and contraction," Dr. Mulholland says.

RFAL is also a more energy-efficient system than others on the market. "The number of effective joules and heat you can deliver in the tissue is much higher than you can get with laser or ultrasound, just by the efficient nature of radiofrequency current," Dr. Mulholland says.

Despite the increased power — up to 75 watts — the BodyTite device is also safe, with a minimal risk of burns resulting from a negative feedback loop. It takes continuous internal and external measurements of impedance and temperature. "If any of those parameters have been exceeded or there is any suggestion from the internal temperatures that we may be overheating tissue and heading towards a burn, it will cut off the radiofrequency energy," Dr. Mulholland says.

Burns are still possible, though Dr. Mulholland cites a less than 1 percent chance. Seromas are also a potential risk, but only in 1 to 2 percent of cases.

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